So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Psalm 90.12

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Book Review - Stopping Words That Hurt

Stopping Words That Hurt: Positive Words in a World Gone Negative
by Dr Michael D Sedler

The basic theme of this book was gossip and the destruction it can cause.  I appreciated the author's insight into interpersonal relationships and the illustrations he provided.  The author is an ethnic Jew and a Christian and it was interesting to read about some of his experiences growing up in a Jewish home.  His section on the Holocaust is quite gripping as well.  I had never really thought about the psychology of the Nazi regime that made so many German citizens do what they claimed they didn't want to.

However, I found that this book was long on psychology and short on theology.  There was much space devoted to the positive/negative actions of the words we speak and there seemed to be the implication that words themselves are powerful, almost in a magical sense.  Dr Sedler says "Speak truth to your fears!" (p.146).  This sent up a few red flags for me.  It  sounds vaguely like Word of Faith or Positive Confession teachings.

Dr Sedler really did not dig into the New Testament teaching on the behaviour/testimony of believers.  There were many Scripture passages cited in the text - many of them were from the Old Testament (which is good), but there wasn't much dealing with the example of the early church.  Another thing I found odd was that Dr Sedler appears to be confused about the local church.  Dealing with Matthew 18.15-17, he says "Who, exactly, are we calling the church?  Is it the Body of Christ at large?  Is it the local congregation?  Is it the elders?  We need to figure that out before we begin the process." (p.221)  

On p.222, Dr Sedler writes,"I have seen issues brought before a church (emphasis mine) on a Sunday morning and I have cringed!  After all, in a Sunday service, who is in attendance?  Only members?  Only believers?  Certainly not!  Then why are we parading our issues in front of people who might have no idea about godly reconciliation and who certainly have no need to hear them?  This type of gossip and criticism only serves to alienate people and push them further away from God."  The local church  (a group of Christians meeting in a particular place) is not meant to be a social club for the unsaved.  There should be certain times when the church meets where there would not be any unsaved in attendance.  For instance, the early church broke bread together on the first day of the week (Acts 20.7).  These were disciples remembering their Lord's death, burial, and resurrection and fellowshipping together.  This would be the perfect opportunity for dealing with problems within the local church.  As another example, the believers that I fellowship with meet each Lord's Day morning to break bread together and remember the Lord's death till He comes again.  This is a meeting for sincere believers only.  Visitors who are not known to the group and have not brought a letter of introduction are asked to simply observe the meeting and not partake of the emblems.  The group would handle problems/discipline in this way.  First, the elders would become aware of a problem or situation within the fellowship and they would investigate it quietly and privately.  If need be, they would present it before the group after the breaking of bread.  However, before the matter was discussed, all the children and anyone not in fellowship in the local assembly would be dismissed.  Then the situation would be disclosed in as direct and brief a way as possible and the course of action be revealed.  Any questions/comments would be taken to the elders in private.  I'm not saying that we are perfect, but this seems to follow the pattern of the New Testament in dealing with issues within the local church.  If one is trying to counsel Christians on appropriate behaviour, you first should have a firm grasp on what the New Testament church is.

This book is very well-written, in a style that is easy to read and understand.  It was definitely an interesting read and not something I would normally buy for myself.  However, I cannot endorse this book wholeheartedly as I find many problems with the general theology.  This book is more psychology than Biblical instruction.  If you do choose to read this book, please read it with extreme discernment.

I would give this book 2 stars for the writing style and 1 star for the content.

Please note: I received a free copy of this book from Chosen Books in return for my honest review.

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